We just kicked off Storyteller’s 1st grade year! It just so happened to coincide with the start of our local schools. Soon after I posted about how crazy our summer had been, she started pleading to start school. I was the one dragging my feet! The last thing on my mind was starting school. I just wanted to relax. This week was definitely fun but nothing close to a lazy summer week. Aside from normal school work, we also surprised the girls with two big outings.
I spent the weekend before our anticipated start day getting reacquainted with our curriculum. I went through all of it as the boxes arrived but that was a few months ago. I went through each program again and reread the first week of lessons but it all seemed so jumbled in my mind. It took some time during kindergarten for me to find a groove at least in my mind. We have some new curriculum choices this year so it’s only to be expected that it will take a bit to find our first grade groove.
Storyteller was excited all week. She only protested once and that was on Friday. By then, we were all tired. They wanted to go to the library that day but Storyteller needed to get her school work done first. The library turned out to be a great motivator. Once she got started in the lessons she sailed right through it with a great attitude. That is certainly something to celebrate!
Her only complaint was that there wasn’t enough History. She LOVED the Bookshark material even though it seemed like much of it was review. The first day was about dinosaurs. She has been fascinated with dinosaurs for a while now so we’ve read quite a few books. We also went to dinosaur exhibits this summer at both the Discovery Children’s Museum and the Springs Preserve. She let me know very clearly that she already knew all this stuff. “EVERYBODY knows this stuff! Why are we reading about dinosaurs AGAIN?” I thought she liked dinosaurs. Well, she does but she already knows everything there is to know about them…or so she thinks. We have a few dinosaur books that we recently bought but haven’t read yet. I meant to use them as a supplement but I didn’t bother with them. She was eager to move onto something other than dinosaurs. The other three days of Bookshark History dealt with the first peoples and their homes, clothing, hunting and cave drawings. Storyteller again claimed to already be an expert in this area but she was still really fascinated with the lessons.
The Bookshark program also includes read aloud books that introduce children to a wide variety of great literature and poetry. This week we started The Boxcar Children. Storyteller loved it so much that we probably could have finished it in one day! I’m happy to see all of the other books in this series so I’m sure many of them will be on our must read list.
Aside from history, we also did math, reading, spelling and handwriting. When we finished kindergarten Storyteller was not at all thrilled with math. I think Horizons Math K is an excellent program but it is just not a good fit for her. We ended up switching to Singapore Math’s Primary Mathematics for this year. I really love the emphasis on mental math and problem solving. Much of what she’ll be doing this year will be review but it is taught very differently. I think this will help her really develop a great understanding of numbers. Both of these programs are considered advanced but I think Horizons gets advanced much too quickly. Even though we’ve only done one week so far, I think I’m really going to like Primary Mathematics. Storyteller certainly had fun with it this week!
We’re continuing on with next level of All About Reading and we have added in All About Spelling. We did some reading work over the summer with Storyteller to keep up her skills but we didn’t do as much as I had hoped. The first day was a bit rough for her but she breezed through the next four days of lessons. All About Learning Press, the manufacturer of the two programs, recommends finishing AAR level 1 (or an equivalent) before starting AAS level 1 which is what we’ve done. I think taking this route has really built a solid foundation for her in reading so that she was able to grasp the spelling activities very quickly this week.
We had started our science curriculum earlier in the summer but we got side tracked once our schedule filled up with all of our summer activities. I meant to finish it during the summer and move onto something else but those plans changed. We’ll start up science again in a few weeks once we find our groove with everything else.
We ended the week with a family trip out to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park for one of their many summer slip-n-slide events. We kept it a secret from the girls and just headed out there for a picnic. Storyteller went on one years ago so she figured it out when they were setting it up. A fun trick they used was to put baby shampoo on the slide to make it more slippery. There wasn’t much of a hill so the shampoo really helped. The girls had a blast! The main house was open for tours. Storyteller is really on a history kick right now so she enjoyed hearing stories of the first settlers of this area. We’ll leave more time on our next trip for a tour of the original houses pictured above.
We kicked off the week with what I thought was the BEST part. We didn’t mean for it to start off the new school year but it just sort of fell into place. Storyteller had already seen two theater productions. This week we added number three. She’s seen a community theater production of Clifford the Bid Red Dog and a children’s version of The Magic Flute. On Monday, we got all dressed up and headed to the Las Vegas Strip where she experienced the magic of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere production! This was the third time that I’ve seen it in the 15 years that I’ve lived in Las Vegas and it is still my favorite show. She loved it as well. She kept jumping out of her seat to yell and point every time she saw something that excited her. She spent most of the show popping up like a Jack in the Box! I still remember very clearly the first theater productions I saw as a kid. It’s exciting to think she’ll remember that night for many years to come.
This was quite an eventful week! Most people ease into a new school year and that was certainly my intent. But Storyteller had great energy and enthusiasm for our new school work so we actually finished everything. And the two family outings this did a great job to frame our first week of first grade!